Shudder UK film review: Fried Barry
Gary Green IS Fried Barry9
Unhinged gonzo visuals9
Moments of genuine tenderness9
Ian Winterton | On 07, May 2021
Director: Ryan Kruger
Cast: Gary Green, Chanelle de Jager, Bia Hartenstein, Sean Cameron Michael, Johnny Piennar, Hakeem Kae-Kazim
Where to watch Fried Barry online in the UK: Shudder UK
Read our interview with director Ryan Kruger
Fresh off a triumphant year of touring film festivals around the world, Fried Barry comes to its perfect streaming home: Shudder. If you’re already a subscriber to a channel dedicated to the horrific and macabre, it’s a shoe-in that you’re going to love this.
Very loosely scripted and largely improvised, Fried Barry is a weird and unsettling shamble through the scabrous underbelly of South Africa’s Cape Town, as seen through the eyes of the titular Barry – a junkie who finds his body taken over by an extra-terrestrial. Playing Barry is Gary Green, a legendary background artist in Cape Town’s film and TV community and, in placing him at the centre, writer-director Kruger has made a film that brings those in the background of society – the marginalised, the homeless, the drug users – to the fore. With his lanky frame and gaunt, gurning face, Green is captivating as the possessed Barry. Stumbling from one lowlife locale to another, he shows us the city – and, indeed, humanity – from a uniquely off-kilter perspective.
As Kruger freely acknowledges, a major influence and inspiration for Fried Barry is Bad Boy Bubby (1993), a grimly brilliant cult masterpiece in which a man, kept imprisoned by his abusive parents, escapes aged 30 and explores the seedy underside of Sydney. Barry, happily, is easily the equal of Bubby – and surely, post-coronavirus pandemic, some enterprising indie cinema will run both movies as a scabby double-bill.
Barry contains the DNA of other movies too. As well as a plethora of nods to the 1980s flicks Kruger grew up on, Fried Barry plays as a less po-faced (and, for this reviewer, far superior) version of the Scarlett Johansson-starring Under the Skin. Like that and Bad Boy Bubby, Fried Barry doesn’t bother itself too much with plot – the emphasis is on the trip.
There is some character development, though, and Kruger does explore the fact that, with an alien being living inside him, Barry might be even more fried than usual but, with his extra-terrestrial curiosity and kindness, seems to be a better man. He even becomes a father, the child growing to full maturity in 24 hours and also played by Green, in grotesque yet darkly funny scenes reminiscent of Chris Cunningham’s Aphex Twin videos such as Windowlicker.
But Fried Barry is far more than just a showcase for scabby chic. Also present are moments of genuine tenderness that, coupled with the fact that all the unhinged events are happening in a social real Cape Town, ensures the movie lingers long in the psyche – and rewards multiple rewatches.
An instant cult classic, then, and one that marks Kruger – an award-winning music video helmer for whom this is his feature debut – as a director to watch. That he created a film full of acid-drenched visuals and punk energy on virtually no budget, shooting gonzo on the mean streets of Cape Town, is remarkable – just imagine what inspired madness he’ll unleash on us next.
Fried Barry is available to stream online on Shudder UK, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription, or £49.99 yearly membership.